26

April

Packers Prospect Profile – WR Randall Cobb, Kentucky – 2011 NFL Draft

1) Profile:

Randall Cobb

College: Kentucky

Position: WR

Height: 5’11″ Weight: 191 lbs.

Born: August 22, 1990 From: Alcoa, TN

2) High School / College Highlights: At Aloca High School, Cobb was a standout both on and off the field. As a four-year member of the track team, Cobb finished third in Tennessee in the 100-meter dash his senior season with a time of 10.75 seconds. He also was an All-District basketball player his junior and senior years, and a member of the academic honor roll.

Even with all those accolades, football was still the sport where Cobb excelled the most. He earned All-State honors during his last two years, quarterbacking the Tornadoes to a 27-3 over that span. His senior year, the dual-threat quarterback was picked as Tennessee’s “Mr. Football.” Rivals still only rated him as the 18th best prospect in Tennessee, and Scout.com gave him just a two-star rating.

Once at Kentucky, however, Cobb proved his worth. He made the SEC All-Freshman team in 2008 by playing at quarterback, receiver, running back and returner. Cobb was named All-SEC First Team his final three seasons at Kentucky, and an All-American his senior year (2010).

3) College Stats: 144 catches for 1661 yards and 13 TD’s; 228 rushes for 1313 yards and 22 TD’s; 44 kick returns for 1081 yards; 63 punt returns for 619 yards and 2 TD’s; 62 completions for 689 yards and 5 TD’s

4) NFL Combine Results: 4.46-second 40-yard dash, 16 bench-presses at 225 pounds, 33.5″ vertical leap, 115″ broad jump, 7.08-second 3-cone drill, 4.34-second 20-yard shuffle, 11.56-second 60-yard shuffle

5) Strengths/Weaknesses: Cobb is as versatile a player as there is in the 2011 NFL Draft. While his main position in the NFL will be receiver, Cobb has the ability to line up at running back, punt and kick returner or quarterback in the Wildcat formation.

As strictly a receiver, Cobb is best suited to play in the slot. He never shies away from contact and isn’t afraid to go over the middle to make plays. Once he gets the ball in his hands, Cobb is tough to get down. His history at running back and compact frame allow him to break tackles and gain yards after the catch.

23

April

Packers Prospect Profile — CB Jimmy Smith, University of Colorado

1) Profile:

Jimmy Smith

College: Colorado

Position: CB

Height: 6’2″  Weight: 205 lbs.

Born: July 26, 1988 From: Fontana, CA

2) High School / College Highlights: While playing along side USC recruits Allen Bradford and Shareece Wright at Colton High School, Smith excelled at safety, cornerback and receiver. A three-time All-League selection, Smith was pegged as the No. 57 overall athlete prospect by Rivals.com and the 53rd ranked safety by Scout.com.

Once at Colorado, Smith started 27 games at cornerback spread over four seasons. While only intercepting three passes in his career, Smith was an All-Big 12 First team selection his senior year and a Second teamer his junior season.

3) College Stats: 47 games (27 starts), 163 tackles, three interceptions, 18 pass breakups, three fumble recoveries

4) NFL Combine Results: 4.46 second 40-yard dash, 24 bench-presses at 225 pounds, 36-inch vertical jump, 123-inch broad jump, 6.93 second 3 cone drill, 4.06 second 20-yard shuffle

5) Strengths/Weaknesses: Smith has the size, speed and coverage ability that makes NFL teams salivate at the thought of having him in their secondary. He’s more than comfortable playing press coverage, and his size makes this a very valuable attribute.

And while he didn’t necessarily put up flashy numbers in college, quarterbacks simply stopped throwing his way later on in his career. In fact, only 52 passes were attempted against Smith during his senior season. Four of his brothers played college football, and Smith has the kind of cockiness that you see in the elite NFL cornerbacks.

However, Smith has some serious red flags that have turned him off to NFL teams. Smith failed a drug test in 2007, and he was arrested twice for possession of alcohol as a minor.

His attitude problems could also be an issue. Jeff Lewgold of the Denver Post said that teams “think [Smith] might want to be a celebrity more than he wants to be a good NFL cornerback.”

6) Fit for the Packers: With Charles Woodson slowly running out of good years, the Packers need to start thinking about finding an eventual replacement. Tramon Williams and Sam Shields will be around for the foreseeable future, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers liked using three-cornerback sets with Woodson playing the slot and near the line of scrimmage. It’s yet to be seen if Williams or Shields could fill that role, but you’d have to bet against it.

21

April

Packers Prospect Profile — CB Cortez Allen, The Citadel

1) Profile:

Cortez Allen

College: The Citadel

Position: CB

Height: 6’1″ Weight: 196 lbs.

Born: October 29, 1988 From: Ocala, FL

2) High School / College Highlights: For his first three years at North Marion High School, Allen was strictly a track star. His senior year, however, he gave football a try and was an immediate standout. North Marion improved from 6-6 in 2004 to 10-4 during Allen’s senior season in ’05, and Allen was named to Florida’s Class AAA All-State, All-City and All-District teams.

Still a raw recruit, Allen saw playing time in only five games his first two collegiate seasons, including being redshirted after just one game in 2007. Once Allen took over the starting spot mid-way through 2008, however, he would never again give up it during his final 2.5 years.

After intercepting three passes in 2009, Allen was named a Third team All-American and Second team All-Southern Conference. He followed up that performance with two interceptions in 2010, good for a Second team All-American and All-Southern Conference selection.

3) College Stats: 39 games played (28 starts), 121 tackles, five interceptions, 16 passes broken up, two touchdowns, one blocked punt

4) NFL Combine Results: 4.51 second 40-yard dash, 18 bench-presses of 225 pounds, 35.5-inch vertical jump, 129-inch broad jump, 6.76 second 3 cone drill, 4.01 second 20-yard shuttle, 10.87 second 60-yard shuttle

5) Strengths/Weaknesses: With his big frame and long arms, Allen is adept at playing press coverage, and he used these skills to be a dominant cornerback at the Citadel. In his 28 career starts, Allen only allowed 69 completions (35.03 percent) and three receiving touchdowns with an average of 4.42 yards per pass attempt.

He wasn’t just a shutdown corner either. Allen contributed as an active supporter against the run, and he made no qualms about playing special teams. In fact, Allen recorded 13 tackles on special teams during his career. Finally, Allen played well in the East-West Shrine game and didn’t seem overwhelmed by the occasion.

Despite that performance, Allen is still a raw prospect with very little experience against big-time competition. And while he certainly has plenty of short-area quickness, Allen lacks the straight line catch up speed that most of the top flight cornerbacks possess.

18

April

Packers Prospect Profile — OT Nate Solder, University of Colorado

1) Profile:

Nate Solder

College: Colorado

Position: OT

Height: 6’8″   Weight: 319 lbs.

Born: April 12, 1988 From: Buena Vista, CO

2) High School / College Highlights: Solder’s foot speed and power make his 6-foot-8 frame even more imposing than it appears to the naked eye. He just looks like a guy that can dominate whomever lines up across from him. Solder was dominant in 2010, becoming the first Colorado offensive lineman to earn first-team All-American honors since 1979. He’s also durable, missing just two snaps since his sophomore season. Solder led the nation last year with 142 knockdowns and allowed only one sack and three pressures in 12 games

Solder was a 245-pound tight end and middle linebacker at Buena Vista high school inColorado and was rated the eighth best prospect in Colorado after his senior season. His dedication in the weight room transformed him into an imposing 319-pound tackle at Colorado.

3) College Stats: 49 games (36 at tackle), 308 key blocks, 20 touchdown-resulting blocks, 5 sacks allowed

4) NFL Combine Results: 4.96 40-yard dash, 21 bench reps, 32 vertical jump, 7.44 three-cone drill

5) Strengths/Weaknesses: Solder struggled against Cameron Jordan, an elite DE in this year’s draft, which raises some questions about whether he can consistently handle NFL pass rushers. His tall frame and wingspan helps him against bull-rushers, but also could hurt him against quick DE’s that take a sharp and driving angle off the line.

Solder is still learning how to play left tackle, which is probably his main weakness right now. He’s only been playing tackle for three seasons. Even though he’s still relatively new to the position, the results have been impressive. Most analysts agree that Solder has the physical tools to be a special lineman for a long time in the NFL as long as he continues to improve and learn the position.

6) Fit for the Packers: I can see Ted Thompson falling in love with Solder, but I don’t think he’ll last until pick No. 32. CBSSports.com projects him as the fourth-best tackle in the draft and the 24th best player overall. I think that actually might be a little low. Solder is a beast and the physical tools are there for him to become something special.

16

April

Packers Prospect Profile — OL Jason Pinkston, University of Pittsburgh

1) Profile:

Jason Pinkston

College: Pittsburgh

Position: OT

Height: 6’3″   Weight: 313 lbs.

Born: September 5, 1987 From: Pittsburgh, PA

2) High School / College Highlights: Pinkston, a two-time All-Big East left offensive tackle, projects as a right tackle in the NFL, or possibly a guard. Either way, his college career was impressive. Pittsburgh produced a 1,000-yard rusher in each of Pinkston’s three seasons as a starter. His versatility also helped him hold his own in pass protection against both speed and power rushers.

Pinkston came to Pittsburgh as a defensive tackle before getting switched to the offensive side in September of his freshman season. He started three games at right tackle his sophomore season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury and earning a medical redshirt.

3) College Stats: 41 career starts, 38 at left tackle.

4) NFL Combine Results: 5.39 40-yard dash, 7.88 three-cone drill, 4.91 20-yard shuttle, 22.0 bench press, 26.5 vertical jump, 08’02″ broad jump.

5) Strengths/Weaknesses: Most analysts highlight Pinkston’s effort and point out that his “motor” is always running no matter the situation, or who is lined up across from him. He also has the size and body shape to play guard, as well as the athleticism to hold his own at tackle.

Negatives include “extra weight in the midsection” (translation: he needs to mix in a salad) and doubts about his ability to handle NFL edge rushers. He also commits early to an opponent’s move, which makes him vulnerable to delayed or secondary rushes.

6) Fit for the Packers: I get the sense that Pinkston is viewed as a step or two above a project. He’s talented enough to possibly contribute right away, but it will likely take a year or two before he’s fully ready. Do the Packers need another project on the offensive line? If Ted Thompson thinks Pinkston’s talent might be worth the wait, why not?

Football teams with bad offensive lines annoy me. They’re a chore to watch. The Packers line played surprisingly well last season and I’d like to see that continue into the future. I will likely endorse any draft pick spent on an offensive lineman, including Pinkston. Just don’t be surprised if he doesn’t challenge for a starting job right away.

7) Highlight video

15

April

Packers Prospect Profile — OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA

1. Profile

Akeem Ayers

College: UCLA

Position: Outside Linebacker

Height: 6’4”    Weight: 255 lbs

Birthdate: July 10, 1989    Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

2. High School/College highlights:

In high school Ayers was named a Super Prep All American and was chosen as a four-star recruit at defensive end by scouts.com and rivals.com .  Also played on offense in high school catching four passes for 132 yards.  At UCLA, he was named honorable mention All-Pac-10 in 2009 and placed third in voting for the Dick Butkus award honoring college football’s best linebacker in 2010.  Ayers also was a team captain in 2010 and finished as a second team All-American.

3. College stats: After three seasons: 183 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 29.5 tackles for a loss and six interceptions

4. NFL Scouting Combine results:  4.81 40 yard dash, 7.49 three cone drill, 4.28 20 yard shuttle, 18.0 bench press, 31.0 vertical jump, 116 broad jump.

5. Strengths/Weaknesses: Ayers plays a very fast brand of football, as can be seen in his 40 time despite his size.   He has a very good burst and is an excellent pass rusher.  As a rookie, he would bring immediate impact to any team looking to significantly improve its blitzing ability.   He also has strong intangibles and was very honest about where he needed to improve during interviews at the NFL Combine.    College players that enter the NFL not expecting to light the world on fire right away often have a higher success rate than those who think they will take over the league in their first year.

On the down side, there are concerns with Ayers’ lower body.  With a smaller body mass in his legs, Ayers is forced to tackle high and that could be a problem when it comes to stopping NFL backs.    He developed a reputation in college as more of a pass rushing specialist so it will more than likely take time for him to acclimate to the running game in the NFL.    There also are some doubts about his ability to learn complex defensive schemes.  His performance at UCLA dropped off in 2010 slightly, leading to questions that once he was figured out he had a hard time adapting to working around some double teams.

12

April

Packers Prospect Profile — WR Jeremy Ross, University of California, Berkeley

1) Profile:

Jeremy Spencer Ross

College: California (University of California, Berkeley)

Position: WR, KR, PR

Height: 6′0″   Weight: 203 lbs.

Born: March 16, 1988 From: Sacramento, CA

2) High School / College Highlights: A dual threat in high school as both a rusher and a receiver, Ross was an All-State selection and Delta League MVP with 964 yards on 99 carries and 718 yards on 45 catches.  Committed to Cal in 2006 but spent the year redshirted and shared offensive scout team player of the year.

In 2007 played in 7 games mostly on special teams but not as a returner.  In 2008 started 5 games and played in all 13 games, mostly as a returner and wide receiver.   In 2009 he came into his own: he was 3rd on the team for all purpose yards and posted a 21.3 yard per punt return average, which would have been a Pac-10 and Cal record had he had enough attempts.  In 2010 he lead Cal in punt return average and was rated as the 5th best draft eligible punt returner.

3) College Stats: 31 games, 57 catches/764 yards/3 TDs, 42 kickoff returns/851 yards/0 TDs, 31 punt returns/471 yards/1 TD

4) NFL Combine Results: Not invited.  Cal pro-day:  4.39 40-yard dash, 4.24 short shuttle, 7.19 3-cone drill, 9’9” broad jump, 39” vertical, 22 bench.

5) Strengths/Weaknesses: A multi-threat player; Ross is a dangerous return man, averaging 20.3 yards per kickoff and 19.07 yards per punt return (18th in the nation).  Also factors in as a wide receiver; at Cal Ross stretched the field as an outside wide receiver but also has the versatility to play in the slot.  Ross was also sometimes used as a runner, most notably on wide receiver reverses such as in his touchdown against Arizona State University.

Ross has deceptive speed for a player of his size and height; his 4.39 40-yard dash time would have tied him for 3rd fastest among wide receivers with Julio Jones at the NFL combine.  Ross also is very strong as he holds several Cal all time records for conditioning for his position, he can push the pile and is hard to take down, his 22 bench press results are impressive for a wide receiver and again would have placed him 3rd at the NFL combine among wide receivers.